Tuesday, February 21, 2017

A stamp for Montpellier's own Frédéric Bazille

This article summarises in part articles of SébPhilatélie in French: the maximum cards preparation, comments on the wonderful organisation, and a sort of illustrated conclusion.

Yesterday, Monday 20 February, the French post issued an artistic stamp in honor of impressionist painter Frédéric Bazille, born 1841 in Montpellier. The chosen artwork is View of village of 1868.
The stamp on a maximum card I made at the first day sale in Montpellier, Friday 17 February (postcard edited by the Fabre Museum, Montpellier municipal museum).
Bazille was a talented painter, born in a rich trade family of Montpellier, in Southern France - a family we met already on this blog thank to Kenneth Nilsestuen with a letter between a wine trader in French conquered Algeria and the Bazille-Castelnau branch of Frédéric's family.

The family owned a domain on the outskirts of 19th century Montpellier : the domaine of Méric, where the garden overviews the small Lez river and the nearby village of Castelnau-le-Lez. On Vue de village, Bazille depicted the daughter of a domain's worker with the village in the background.

A high definition picture of the painting and school activities to discover it are available on the Réseau Canopé website, the French public education information service.

The sad part of the story is that Frédéric Bazille, while volunteering the army, died during the 1870 war between France and Prussia, only aged 28.
A part-walk part-tramway route from the place of the first day sale to the Domaine of Méric, passing in front the Fabre Museum, in Montpellier (Google Maps modified with free software Paint.NET).
The first day of sale was proposed in Montpellier, in an uncommon place for the city and its federated philatelic club. The Association philatélique de Montpellier generally organised such event in a municipal hall ; the Fabre Museum was thought too late.
The merry postal team of the Préfecture post office, the President of the Montpellier Philatelic Association (in blue) and one of the deputy mayor (Midi libre, Montpellier local edition, 18 February 2017).
The sale ended in the historic main post office of the town center, near the Préfecture, the official residence of the French State administrator. I thought the place too tiny and crowded at peak let-me-get-my-registered-or-parcel hours...

... But the post office team was efficient and happy to oblige in such short notice. The postal clark specialised in philatelic matters was there with stamps and the first day datestamp ; his boss all smile with the offered coffee machine and cookies. The Association got space enough to propose René Maréchal's collection of impressionist paintings through stamps and pictorial cancellations.

Let me say that, for the past decade, despite the French post's delusional try to profitability of the philatelic sales, the Montpellier Préfecture post office has kept the status of an actual philatelic post office whereas the philatelic subscription were centralised on order by Phil@poste and that post offices were forced to time the seconds spent by each employee with clients... Letting some post offices with the idea that philatelic consumers were a waste of time!

Montpellier Préfecture never surrendered and is proven right: for the past year and a half, Phil@poste and the Post Office Direction are reintroducing philatelic counters in chosen post offices!!!

This improvised first day of sale is a wonderful gift for a wonderful philatelic friendly team.
For amateurs of how baby are mad... stamps are printed: the right part half sheet of the Bazille stamp, with all colour verification dots and the marginal identifications.
A question remained: why a stamp for Bazille now?
The Rose Dress, 1864, shows a cousin watching the same village accross the small river (postcard edited by the Musée d'Orsay, Paris).
Because Frédéric Bazille has got an international exhibition on the run: Frédéric Bazille and the Birth of of impressionism was inaugurated in the Fabre Museum during the Summer 2016, is currently finishing in Musée d'Orsay, Paris, before cruising to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. from April 9th to July 9th.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

Week #2017.07 on SébPhilatélie

The main event this past week in Montpellier is the first day of sale of a stamp in the artistic series: a painting View of the Village by Frédéric Bazille (1841-1870), a talended impresionist born in a trade family of the city.
The Frédéric Bazille stamp (via Phil-ouest.com).
Sunday 12 February: Some "patients" of the RPSL Expert Committee.
On 9 February the conference at the Royal Philatelic Society London was a presentation of some false stamps and fraudulent alteration of stamps and letters by Chris Harman, Chairman of the RPSL Expert Committee.

The group of volunteering specialists assure collectors and dealers that the items are what they are thought to be. And, listening to Chris Harman, some frauders are very ressourceful: the most striking example to me was a 1847 U.S. letter whose stamp and cancels looked genuine (and quite valuable) until it was proven that the year in the correspondence was tampereed (from "1841") in order to hide the perforated stamp was added much later.

But the exhibit and the conference present a large range of problems to be aware of, from classics to modern, and from Britain to contemporary China.

Monday 13 February: Shouldn't an international registered letter be signed for?
A little day to day mystery: why didn't I have to sign for a registered letter from French Polynesia? Are the French postal employee so smartly equipped that the view of the postman's notice and your identity card is sufficient?
Service letter from the French Polynesia Philatelic Service postmarked 19 January 2017 that is an (discreet) international registered letter.
By Friday I know: I had to sign the postal clerck's smartphone for a registered package from the United Kingdom.

Wednesday 15 February: The location of the stamp, the maximum card creator's problem.
Preparing for the first day of sale of the Bazille stamp, I bought postage card of the painting at the Museum Fabre shop... but on Friday where should I put the stamp without spoiling the picture?

Friday 17 February: A first day of sale in a so philatelic post office.
A summary of the discovery of the Bazille stamp, made enjoyable by the crew of Montpellier Préfecture post office.

The historic town center post office had continued to provide philatelic service at the counter despite the atmosphere of service productivity of the last decade: the Post Office Direction wanted the shortest period for a clerck to serve a consumer while the Stamp Post Office (Phil@poste) wished to deliver the philatelic subscription by mail... Let's say the traditional clientele of collectors haven't been happy ever since.

But in Montpellier Préfecture, the two philatelic clerks were added to the workforce of the main office with a little trick: whenever a customer for stamps appears, he is served immediately by the philatelic clerk on duty... without disturbing neither general service nor time and money profitability it would seem. In fact philatelic counters are reappearing... by order from the top.

This first day of sale inside this post office is a victory of service to collectors. Thank you, postmen!

Sunday 19 February: Algeria's 2017 philatelic program commented in El Watan.
The Algerian newspaper El Watan continued to print a weekly chronicle on philately, both new issues and thematic of Algeria. To be found every Thursday with the help of the weekly column menu.
Émis le neuf février, ce timbre célèbre l'anniversaire de la reconnaissance du tamazight, les langues berbères, comme langue officielle en Algérie (Algérie Poste).
The last article by Arslan Selmane, on 16 February, announced the main issues of the stamp programme for 2017, in the critical way the chronicle is always.

But this year there are good points and a lot of hope: 2 singer women to be honored, military battles of the Algerian history, touristic views, return of minisheets,...

On my side of the Mediterranean, in the middle of a very strange and nervous presidential campaign (we Frogs are now debating the good and bad points of colonisation when one of our candidate visit Algiers), I wonder how the Battles stamps will be received by part of the French public... But the French post issuing a 55th anniversary of the ceasefire in Algeria next month, I think the trouble will stay among French people.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Week #2017.06 on SébPhilatélie

Sunday 5 February: A new post office in Liverpool town center.
During my yearly trip to the city of the Beatles and former port of the Empire, I saw that a new post office, privately own it seems, is to open on the groundfloor of the former Lewis store building, near Lime Street and Central Stations.
The windows of the future Central Village post office (and coffee shop) on  Renshaw Street late January 2017 (picture under Creative Commons licence by-nc-nd 3.0 fr).
The article summarizes the current post offices I know in this area.

Monday 6 February: Criminal letters sent to bullfighting lovers.
In local news around Montpellier, forty or so bullfighters or bullfighting associations officers received postal stationery trapped with razor blade hidden in the adhesive flap. At least one man was deeply wounded to a finger.
An example of a letter received by an association in Béziers and cancelled on Wednesday 1st: a green letter stationery whose Datamatric code was hidden with a green letter Marianne (Midi libre).
Back in 2006 another stream of such letters were sent to bullfighting associations from Nîmes, Gard. The coded cancellations on the 2017 envelopes are from the same département.

Tuesday 7 February: Tea With Puppets, coffee with Canadian stamps.
Since last October a new postcast was launched on many on-demand platforms, and included a blog: Tea With Puppets with an interest on new issues of Canada and, for now, one on former issues.
 Tea With Puppets.
Friday 10 February: From human tragedies to natural history: stamps and the academics.
Last Autumn two French historians, Alain Croix and Didier Guywarc'h, published at the the University of Rennes Press a book on how stamp issues reflects the memory of the two World Wars.
The cover (Gibert Joseph bookshop).
Timbres en guerre is a very interesting read from the semi-postal and war tax stamps of 1914 to the flow of commemorative issues, well after the events. The authors wonders how the governments' motivation evolved along the way, what the public may have understood of the stamps... and, when the knowledge was available, if the face value and printing numbers show if the stamps were to be seen by the nationals.

Of course symbolism or realism are part of the problem, including what the public wished to see (comparison between the fiftieth anniversary of World War 2 issues of the U.S. and of the Marshall Islands).The topic appears many times concerning the crimes of war and the Holocaust: interesting to discover how Eastern European countries managed their philately.

A must-read for philatelist and muggles alike.
David Lank  explaining how the background of a stamp is important: is it a temporary weather or the climate the species knew? (youTube).
But, you may already have lost faith in mankind with these past and the recent events. Turn to nature!

Professor David Lank donated his topical stamp collection of natural history to the McGill University Library, Montréal, Québec. In English he proposed a speech at the inauguration of an exhibition of part of this collection, on Thursday 12 January (to see until May 14th).

It is amazing to listen how he introduced the slow growth of the postal system to his public, while displaying both beautiful and colorful stamps and depiction of animals in postal history.

A must-see on youTube.

Saturday 11 February: Prolific postal historian Ted Proud passed away.
Monday 6 February Ted Proud (1930-2017) disappeared. He was an important postal history dealer from 1961 to 1987 with his Proud Bailey Company.
The Proud Bailey logo on the "museum-website".
But he will be remember for the many books he published on the postal history of British colonies and military forces: a treasure of documents, lists of rates and post offices, some maps that help the postal collector to discover the territory he wishes to enter before going into more specialised works.

Let's hope that the International Postal Museum website, where one can access all his books for a small donation, would be continued.

He was rightfully invited to sign the Roll of Distinguished Philatelists in 2008.

Saturday, February 04, 2017

Postal history: Etihad Museum's inaugural exhibition

Saturday January 7th 2017 the Etihad Museum opened in Dubai, a national museum on the history of the United Arab Emirates before and after their unification in 1971.

Managed by Dubai's Culture Authority, its contemporain architectural building is a neighbour of the one where six emirates signed their union (the seventh joined the next year) putting an end to the British protectorate.
Visit the postal exhibit and zoom in the introductory text in English and Arab thank to Dubai360.com. Many items can be seen by wandering the room: click on the green marks (beware: flying inside the pictures with a computer mouse is ultra-sensitive. Airsickness in view).
The first temporary exhibition until April 30th is the postal history of the emirates and their first stamps from 1909 mail to the 1971 independence.

A beautiful achievement for Abdullah Koory, President of the Emirates Philatelic Association, created 1996, who is sharing his impressive collection.